From education to employment

Minister visits London South East Colleges ahead of skills funding announcement

Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, met with staff, students and apprentices during a visit to London South East Colleges’ Bromley Campus. 

The Minister toured the College’s Technology block, visiting construction workshops and its newly launched Green Skills Lab. Speaking with apprentices and students who are studying a range of vocational qualifications, the Minister viewed the college’s facilities and heard more about its courses, study programmes and skills provision. 

The visit came ahead of Friday’s Department for Education’s LSIF funding announcement, which has seen over £165 million provided to colleges across the country to strengthen skills provision. 

London South East Colleges has led the LSIF bid for the Local London region, bringing together a collaborative partnership of 12 FE colleges, Higher Education providers, Adult Education Providers and Local Authorities.*  

This partnership has been allocated £6.5m of LSIF funding to deliver improved green and digital skills training, with new pioneering facilities. This will include a network of 21 immersive digital hubs to enable shared teaching expertise across the region. In addition, a series of green capital projects will be developed, including low-carbon training labs, retrofit training centres, a wind turbine training centre and green hubs. 

During his visit to the College, Minister Halfon spoke to students about the career pathways they have chosen and their college experience. He also shared his own insight with them and his ambitions for ensuring all young people have access to an apprenticeship and other high-quality training opportunities. The Minister said:

“The Local Skills Improvement Fund will transform skills training up and down the country. I saw that first-hand at London South East Colleges’ Green Skills Lab, which was funded by the precursor to the LSIF.

“The funding will ensure London’s next generation have the skills needed for a more sustainable future, and help brilliant students like the ones I met at LSEC secure good local jobs and climb the ladder of opportunity.”

London South East Colleges’ Group Principal and CEO, Dr Sam Parrett CBE, showed the Minister around the college. She spoke about some of the challenges FE colleges are facing and the importance of the LSIF funding. She said: 

“The fantastic students we’ve talked to today represent many of the successful strategies that have been put into place within FE.  

“We are delighted to have showcased their hard work to Minister Halfon – and to have shown him our ambitious vision for skills provision over the coming years. The £6.5m we have secured from the LSIF is central to these plans. We are very much looking forward to delivering this programme in collaboration with our partners – which we know will have a significant impact going forward. 

“Minister Halfon is a genuine champion for our sector. We are incredibly grateful for the support he has shown to the college and our students.” 

Louise Wolsey, Chief Strategy Officer at London South East Colleges, led the LSIF bid. She explained: 

“The Local London LSIF bid is a direct response to the Local Skills Improvement Plans. We know that in order to achieve maximum impact, we had to bring together employers, educators and stakeholders – to work towards a shared goal. And this is exactly what we have achieved. 

“By focusing on collaboration rather than competition, we will be able to strengthen skills provision across the region in the key growth areas of digital and green. We look forward to taking this programme of work forward with our partners and are delighted to have shared our plans with the Minister today.” 

The visit concluded with some words from the Chair of London & South East Education Group, Stephen Howlett CBE DL, who thanked the Minister, adding: 

“We are really grateful for the chance to show the Minister the fantastic work being done here at LSEC, by staff and students. I myself am a product of FE and wouldn’t be where I am without it – so am delighted to be involved and meet the next generation of skilled, industry experts.” 

During his tour around the college, the Minister spoke to students and apprentices on a range of courses: 

Regan (17) is studying on a Level 2 electrical installation course. He said: 

“I am hoping to be an electrician.  My course has been excellent so far, and I am enjoying college. It was good to meet the Minister, he was really friendly and interested in what we were doing.” 

Abbie (17) is on a Level 1 Carpentry. She said

“I chose this course because I would like to be a carpenter. I am interested in interior design so these skills will be useful for me. I enjoyed meeting the Minister today.” 

Roman (16) is on a Level 2 Electrical Installation course, which he began in September. He said: 

“I’m having a good experience here, and my ambition is to be a fully qualified electrician, ideally with my own firm. I wanted a practical job as would hate to be stuck in an office.” 

During the visit, the Minister also met with plumbing apprentices and students on built environment courses. They discussed green skills, the challenges of finding employers to take on apprentices and the lack of impartial career advice in schools. 

Three students on the College’s Prince’s Trust programme were introduced to the Minister, with their tutor Shermonie Brewster. They spoke about their time at the college and hopes for the future. 

The partnership comprises the following organisations:

FE Providers Sixth FormCollegesAdult Education Provider Independent Training ProviderHigher EducationCertification and Accreditation Provider
London South East CollegesShooters’ HillMary Ware CentreThe Quantum GroupRavensbourneOCN London
Newham CollegeLeyton Sixth Form Greenwich AEB Greenwich University 
Barnet & Southgate College Redbridge University of East London  
Barking & Dagenham College Waltham Forest AEB   
Capel Manor College Newham    
Capital City College Barking & Dagenham   
New City College Barnet & Southgate   
Waltham Forest College Bromley  

For more information on LSIF, visit: Department for Education – GOV.UK (

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